Bromyard and Ledbury home owners in their 80s were deceived into having unnecessary and expensive roof cleaning work done.

On 17 January, in front of Worcester Crown Court’s most senior Judge, His Honour James Burbidge QC, in a case taken by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Service, Ciara Wortley was given a 12 months suspended prison sentence, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay £3000 compensation and £300 costs.

Wortley, 45, of Lyndale Close, Lymington was the sole director of Owl Home Solutions Ltd, which operated from Bournemouth, and she had entered guilty pleas to six unfair trading charges, including two offences relating to an additional victim couple from Reading, also in their 80s.

Elderly consumers were targeted using databases, sometimes called succours lists. They were cold called on the telephone and the company used a ruse of pretending a surveyor needed to visit to carry out a free inspection of their insulation.  Wortley actually sent unqualified salesmen to the properties, who worked on commission only.

The salesmen were sent to coerce the vulnerable home owners into having moss jet washed off their roofs and a water proof liquid sprayed onto the tiles – this is commonly known as a roof coating scam. The Ledbury victim was charged £3000 for this wholly unnecessary and worthless work, while the Bromyard home owner was conned into a contract for the roof coating and having his walls sprayed with a water proof coating, totalling £5500.

In both these cases the salesman was Darren Smith, 37, from Seymour Road, Southampton, who had pleaded guilty to three unfair trading charges, and was given 140 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £2000 in compensation and £1000 costs.

Cllr Ange Tyler, Cabinet Member Housing, Regulatory Services & Community Safety, said:“This prosecution is one of a long line of cases against companies based in the Bournemouth area who target the elderly for bogus home improvements. These companies tend to sell waterproof wall and roof coatings and spray foam loft insulation, all of which is wholly unnecessary and vastly overpriced. We urge local residents to avoid becoming a rogue trader victim simply by not engaging with any cold callers, whether on the telephone or at the door, and ask family, friends and neighbours to remain vigilant in protecting elderly residents.

“This is the latest example of the excellent work done by Enforcement Officers to protect vulnerable people in our Communities.”

Anyone concerned about the activity of a doorstep seller is urged to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or visit the Herefordshire Council website for more consumer advice.